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Sorry, Fed Inflationistas: Technology Is Deflationary

April 21, 2014

Technology, like Nature itself, has no emotional stake in what is creatively destroyed.

We all know the Federal Reserve is terrified of deflation, because they keep telling us that deflation is the equivalent of death and inflation is the equivalent of oxygen. What they fail to mention is that inflation is only oxygen for debtors barely able to service their debt and those who profits from debt, i.e. bankers and financiers.

For everyone earning a wage or salary, inflation is the equivalent of death by a thousand cuts and deflation is the elixir of life. When prices decline, our money goes further, i.e. our purchasing power increases.

Only bankers, governments and other parasites that live off the carrion of debt fear deflation and try to destroy the purchasing power of wages with everything in their power. The irony of all the parasites pushing inflation as the cure-all is the only real cure-all to our present stagnation and decline is the complete renunciation/write-off of unpayable debts, a systemic bankruptcy that rights the ship of state and the economy by writing off bad debt and blowing off phantom collateral, i.e. assets that are supporting debt whose valuations have been pushed to the moon by easy-money and low interest rates.

Let's start our discussion of technology and deflation by asking one question: has there ever been a central authority that tried to stop the spread of technology and won? Not to my knowledge; new technologies that offer enormous benefits (think affordable eyeglasses) and astounding reductions in cost spread like wildfire, even when central banks and states are dead-set on suppressing their creative destruction of Status Quo vested interests.

Sorry to bring the bad news, Fed inflationistas, but technology is irrevocably deflationary. The exceptions are: regulations that require additional technology to benefit life safety, and entrenched interests that erect barriers to competition and new technology, for example, Big Pharma and the sickcare industry.

When state-protected cartels rule the roost, costs go up no matter how much new technology is introduced. State-protected monopolies (sickcare, higher education, etc.) can suppress disruptive technologies, at least for a while, until their bloated, high-cost, diminishing-return structure collapses under its own weight.

Obamacare is a Catastrophe That Cannot Be Fixed (December 6, 2013)
The real unsubsidized cost of Obamacare for two healthy adults ($23,244 annually) exceeds the cost of rent or a mortgage for the vast majority of Americans. Please ponder this for a moment: buying healthcare insurance under Obamacare costs as much or more as buying a house.

The Orwellian Affordable Care Act will not last, because it is intrinsically unaffordable, wasteful and inefficient. Only those whose care is paid by others via subsidies think it affordable; on a systemic level, it is doomed to implode, and the sooner the better in terms of enabling technology to creatively destroy vested interests.

Technology is enormously deflationary on a number of fronts.

1. Perhaps most importantly, technology eliminates costly human labor. In the late 19th century, roughly 50% of the labor force worked on farms. Today, the number is 2% of the workforce.

At the turn of the 19th century, the largest category of employment was domestic help. The rise of electrical appliances and machines of convenience eliminated much of the need for domestic labor.

The next sector to undergo large-scale destruction of jobs was manufacturing. The process of replacing human labor with robots and software automation in factories is still underway.

Advances in software are now eliminating white-collar office jobs and retail employment. People like me (self-employed information workers) can now produce output and manage services that required three to five people a mere 25 years ago.

Although many believe new technologies create more jobs than they eliminate, there is precious little evidence of that today. Anyone who thinks biotech is going to create millions of new jobs needs to survey the job market for PhDs and those with Masters degrees in biotech fields--biochemistry, etc. The job market is tight, not expansive; these high-tech sectors can only absorb so many graduates, regardless of their level of training.

Just issuing diplomas does not create jobs for graduates.

As technology eliminates millions of jobs by replacing human labor, wages decline and the percentage of national income that goes to labor also declines. This means there is less money for consumption, pressuring prices of consumer goods. This is broadly deflationary.

Here is labor's share of income:

The bedrock of employment, small business, has cratered:

The wholesale elimination of white-collar labor has barely started.

2. Technology consolidates rentier services via convergence. A few years ago everyone needed a landline telephone, a separate phone line for a modem, a television, a DVD player, a mobile phone, a stereo system and a laptop computer. Now all anyone under the age of 30 needs is a smart-phone and perhaps a cheap laptop or tablet.

The rentier skims being eliminated by convergence are significant. Now people can get rid of cable or satellite and watch most programming via the web.

3. Technology gets cheaper. The first sequencing of the human genome cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Now it's down to a few hundred dollars per sequencing. An Android tablet with full functionality can be had for $40 wholesale in China.

As competition drives prices down, profits erode. This is why the ideal set-up for profits has always been monopoly. But technology has a way of disrupting monopolies.

4. Technology enables transparency and thus lower prices. Transparency is anathema to cartels, which is why the actual cost of healthcare is obscured by providers desperate to avoid competition. But the web is introducing transparency and that alone is disrupting and creatively destroying profits based on information asymmetry.

5. Technology improves efficiency and reduces consumption. Volkswagen's 283-mile-per-gallon car is currently very costly, but how long will it take for those technologies to spread to the mainstream. How much less fuel will a 140-mile-per-gallon vehicle burn than a current generation car?

Reduced consumption means reduced sales and profits.

6. Profits go down as creative destruction takes down profitable rentier skims, cartels and bloated, inefficient industries. And what happens when profits decline for systemic reasons? Stock market valuations based on absurdly optimistic expectations of future profits implode along with profits.

And when the stock market finally reflects declining sales and profits, even the Fed won't be able to prop it up.

Technology, like Nature itself, has no emotional stake in what is creatively destroyed. Technology had no attachment to lamplighters or buggy-whip manufacturers, and it has no attachment to the Fed, sickcare, higher education, manufacturing or the state itself, all of which are being remorselessly disrupted.

As Bob Dylan put it, he not busy being born is busy dying. That is equally true for enterprises, industries and institutions.



Want to give an enduringly practical graduation gift? Then give my new book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy, a mere $9.95 for the Kindle ebook edition and $17.76 for the print edition.



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Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy (Kindle, $9.95)(print, $17.76)
go to Kindle edition
Are you like me?
Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible.

And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.

You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.

Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.

So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.

It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.

I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.

Test-drive the first section and see for yourself.     Kindle, $9.95     print, $17.76

HUGE GIANT BIG FAT DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site should be construed as investment advice or guidance. It is not intended as investment advice or guidance, nor is it offered as such.... (read more)

WHY EMAIL TO THIS SITE IS READ BUT MAY NOT BE ACKNOWLEDGED: Regrettably, I am so sorely pressed for time and energy that I am unable to respond to the vast majority of emails. Please know I read all emails, but I can only devote a very limited number of hours to this blog and all correspondence....



This Month's entries:


Sorry, Fed Inflationistas: Technology Is Deflationary
April 21, 2014

What's Cooking at Our House: Ciambella
April 19, 2014

It's Time to Retire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a Measure of Prosperity
April 18, 2014

It's Time to Ditch the Consumer Price Index (CPI)
April 17, 2014

What's the Difference Between Fascism, Communism and Crony-Capitalism? Nothing
April 16, 2014

The Alienation of Work
April 15, 2014

How To Get a Job Despite the Economy
April 14, 2014

What's Cooking at our House: Appam and Sambar
April 12, 2014

Are We Losing Practical Life-Skills?
April 11, 2014

Now That the U.S. and China Have Picked the Low-Hanging Fruit, Peak Everything Looms
April 10, 2014

Fed to the Sharks, Part 2: Housing and the Death of the Middle Class
April 9, 2014

Fed to the Sharks, Part 1: The Fed Takes Our Money, Gives It to Banks Who Loan It Back to Us at 16%
April 8, 2014

And the Next Big Thing Is ... Degrowth?
April 7, 2014

What's Cooking at Our House: Local Aquaculture Trout
April 5, 2014

My Wish for 2016: We Finally Get a President Who Doesn't Kiss Wall Street's Rear End
April 4, 2014

It's Not Just the Stock Market That's Rigged: the Entire Status Quo Is Rigged
April 3, 2014

What Happens After the Low-Hanging Fruit Has Been Picked?
April 2, 2014

April 2016: Dow Jones-30 Suspended Due to Lack of Interest
April 1, 2014





March 2014 entries

February 2014 entries

January 2014 entries


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Extra-Special Bonus Aphorisms:


"There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity."
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"We are what we repeatedly do." (Aristotle)

"Do the thing and you shall have the power." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." (E.F. Schumacher, via Tom R.)

"He who will not risk cannot win." (John Paul Jones)

"When we drink coffee, ideas march in like the army." (Honore de Balzac)

"Progress is not possible without deviation." (Frank Zappa, via Richard Metzger)

"Victory favors those who take pains." (amat victoria curam)

"The man who has a garden and a library has everything." (Cicero, via Lee Bentley)

"A healthy homecooked family meal and a home garden are revolutionary acts." CHS

"Do you know what amazes me more than anything else? The impotence of force to organize anything." (Napoleon Bonaparte)

"The way of the Tao is reversal" Or "Reversal is the movement of Tao." (Lao Tzu)

"Chance favours the prepared mind." (Louis Pasteur)

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." (Winston Churchill)

"Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasures." (Rumi)

"The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for." Joseph Addison (via Susan J.)

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, via Wayne H.)

"Passive absorption of marketing-dominated media is the primary activity on the plantation of the mind, and that of course is the goal of the colonial overlords: distraction, passivity, confusion, divide and conquer, and the old stand-by, financial desperation." (CHS)

"While we can always buy back into a trending market, we cannot go back in time and recover a profit lost to greed or complacency." (CHS)

"Whatever remains unconscious emerges later as fate." (Carl Jung)

"Any sufficiently advanced cartel's actions are indistinguishable from magic." (CHS)

"We have no leadership, just cronies and puppets." (CHS)

"The secret sauce in an investment isn't the upside, it's the viability between people who choose to share your dream in business or in life." (Eric P.)

"The ultimate goals of making money are balance and independence from money." (An Chu)

"Central planning perfects the power of threats to bypass the system's defenses." (CHS)

"Independence requires independence of thought, habit and action." (CHS)

"Certainty has another advantage: it's more persuasive than hedged hesitancy." (CHS)

"That which is cheap and abundant will be squandered until it is no longer cheap or abundant." (CHS) (3/5/2014)

"The prime directive of any bureaucracy is to eliminate all accountability." (CHS)

"In a world besotted with the artifice of consumerism, what matters is not what can be commodified and bought but what can't be commodified and bought." (CHS)

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    My "definition" of success:

    1. Did I make myself useful today?
    2. Did I take care of myself today and avoid burdening anyone with my cares and troubles?
    3. Were I to meet the living Jesus or Buddha at day's end, would I feel ashamed of my conduct during the day, or could I meet his gaze with the inner knowledge that I emulated his teachings to the very best of my ability?


    live free
    live well
    live with integrity
    live with kindness
    be average but with self-discipline


    7 things to aspire to:

    austerity
    restraint
    humility
    responsibility
    patience
    sacrifice
    thrift

     

       
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